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11/01 Direct Link
End of the day, the beginning of a month. Belly full, head heavy, spirit inspired, energy encouraged. Saw too many people people today, a good re-entry to town. Hot sunny day after a night of rain. The stary night sky with heat lightening and thunder on the horizon. Elections in the states tomorrow. I asked Kango if he could hook Bienvenu up with CNN special order, we'll see if it's possible. I'm rubbing aloe from the garden on the burn on my hand. I'm prepared to crash early tonight, soon after I put down my pen. Don't let bedbugs bite!
11/02 Direct Link
I went en brousse with Magloire today – we went to Mdjema to evaluate the COGES – the management board of the village savings and loan. Half of them were there. Magloire tested their knowledge of the bank regulations, reviewed their bank books, noted and discussed all their over due loans. Riding out there on the motorcycle was hard. When we stopped in Endom, I was so sore it was difficult swinging my leg over to get back on. I'd forgotten those mussels. Coming back hours later was a little easier. Kango replaced TV5 with CNN all day but I missed it.
11/03 Direct Link
I woke at 5am to follow the election results. I heard Bush had the majority so far but… There was still hope. I went over to Bienvenu's to follow on French TV5. Their analysis made sense. Pennsylvania had already turned. So we wait on OH. And we wait. I did a turn at the office. Then the cable went out. BBC has returned to their regular programming and finally I have to return to mine. I heard on Cameroonian news at 8pm that Bush has declared himself a winner. Four more years and the world for Americans really will change.
11/04 Direct Link
Strong bright morning sun, golden light encouraging the birds to sing. Didn't sleep long or very well. Waiting to hear the verdict on BBC but they've already moved on. Which side would Bill have been on? He would have known how to ignite me either way.
I worry that my writing sample isn't good enough, that the "we" narrator is too wild. Will it work ok with the other stories? Are the others strong enough? Who can help me judge? The statement of purpose is hard, will it sound pathetic? Scattered? Pleading?
And what will happen with Roger later today?
11/05 Direct Link
Roger went back to yde this morning. We had a good time yesterday. I left him in town while I went with Magloire to evaluate the COGES in Koum. Elanga has a huge overdue loan. I don't want to see him drown, wonder if I could help him establish a payment plan.
When we got back we stopped at the office. Roger evaluated what each computer needs to work on full capacity.
The CECA was broken into through the roof last night, didn't get near the safe.
I met with ATM fighting over funds.
I designed SAIMED certificates of appreciation.
11/06 Direct Link
Morning sunbeams. BBC just switched from English to French, marking the 7th hour of the day. This rainy season my head is always heavy, nose packed with snot, eyes full of goo. A big day ahead – the ATM annual AG (General Assembly) god I've gotten used to too many acronyms! I've showered, talked to Essama and gave him cases of bottles so he can get beer for after the meeting. I still have grad schools on my mind. I need to make my selections, deadlines are too close. …. I've worked myself into a corner where a story is controlling me.
11/07 Direct Link
Today was the 5th and last village AIDS meeting in Embolakounou. It was the best yet. We need to find the means to continue. Interesting funny questions worth 1000words. We had to tow Magloire's motorcycle 40k and then rush off to a party/ meeting 15k south of the Nyong au GADE. Dynamic group wanting help but I've had such difficulty coordinating with them. I sat in the absent Sous-Prefect's chair. We left before the music because it was threatening to rain. They promised to deliver provisions to my house this week. Liz's text from a concert in London warmed me.
11/08 Direct Link
The idea that we're rapidly working through the 11th month of the year is very surprising to me. I want to control time and study each breeze but life, the world, the calendar months zoom past me. I've aged beyond my own control, possibly it's just more recognizable because I've slowed so much. I'm more conscious, more risk adverse, more aware of cycles changing, in need of more time to digest each experience.
I need to read SAIMED action plan, Bienvenu rushes ahead so fast, it's hard to advise him. He skips and jumps but that's how things happen here.
11/09 Direct Link
I'm just creating the computer file for November, been writing by hand so far this month. My head's spinning with uncertainty and I don't like it. I like it when my decisions are risky but my choices have more certainty. My limited resources make it all the more difficult to make choices. If I were I back home I'd work the phone and have endless people to bounce my ideas and plans off of and much more time on the internet to research. Then I could minimize stress and risk with informed choices. Will I ever be able to sleep?
11/10 Direct Link
I came into yde to the case to do internet and research grad schools and programs. I need to decided where I'm applying. I was very happy to find only 3 people here. Free access to computers, choice of beds, some calm. But one of the 3 people is Jeannah. We've spent the whole night talking – pc gossip, work frustration, boys, selfishness, life stories, writing styles, self esteem, relationships and gossip. The office is closed tomorrow and nobody's here so I can work as much as I need to tomorrow. Going to bed even if that's less than 100 words.
11/11 Direct Link
Ah it's late, too late but I got most everything I needed done. I've chosen writing programs as best I can with limited ability to research. Jeannah and Stanley read through, commented on and discussed several of my stories. I tracked down two references. Got quick enthusiastic responses, thanks Kate! I made steps in requesting transcripts. Anne called from Chicago and brightened me immensely to hear her voice, worry and encouragement. I asked her for pics of her big belly. I'm missing so much in the lives of my friends. I'm gonna try to crank out applications, they appear complicated.
11/12 Direct Link
I'm back in my body. Instead of planning an exercise routine – stretches, jumping jacks, punches, kicks, head tilts, dance steps, sit-ups, push ups, - for tomorrow, I did them. I can feel my mussels. I can embody hope of health and beauty. Hope, inspired by small movements, simple change, energized. It comes in such tiny bite size little pieces that are difficult to hang on to and protect. You have to use hope when it comes and trust that it will return again in the future. Punch air, sit-up, push-up, walk, bend, stretch, reach, sweep, dip, smile, reach, and stretch.
11/13 Direct Link
Edit, type, format change. Anne's voice still echoes from days ago. I get up and pace, unable to even start my statement of purpose. I look through the few books I have that I haven't yet read. I return to my laptop and open my words instead of plunging in. Just hours ago I was thinking I could get these applications wrapped up. I made all the fonts and spacing of my stories match. I could type 10 days of words from my journal. But I need to get a draft going, get the hard stuff out of the way.
11/14 Direct Link
I exercised again today, then walked to market under the hot sun. Some women carrying heavy buckets on their heads looked at me with such anticipation I had to say "Bonjour". Their faces lit up and one of them answered in English "Good afternoon! How are you? You go to market?" She was so pleased with herself, she put a new bounce in my step. I ate eggs at Perjero's and learned that Peter has lost his father. (His father fathered 73 children, must be some funeral.) Around dusk I walked with Solange to the Hotel de Ville and back.
11/15 Direct Link
There are no public toilets. You pee on the side of the road, or in the road or in a dark corner. For women it's a little trickery, men just pee when they need to where they find themselves. There are no trash cans. Every residential street has a spot where households throw their trash. Goats, dogs, chickens and cats spend their days sifting through the piles. And people just toss trash onto the floor, they throw wrappers out car windows. It's a habit I've taken on as well, just tossing stuff on the ground no matter where I am.
11/16 Direct Link
I didn't open the stories today. I need a few days away from them. But I got a recommendation drafted. I worked on the budget for repeating the woman's seminar. I met again with the girl who wants a grant to buy land to expand an orphanage. I have a much better impression of her today. Then Bienvenu and I raced off to a meeting at the CECA to prepare the general assembly tomorrow. Back at Bienvenu's house he explained staff and finance problems. We discussed options. The electricity went out and I got blocked by the rain for awhile.
11/17 Direct Link
There's way too much going on and maybe I'm taking it all too seriously. I have to get up at 5am and I'm not ready. When am I ever ready to get up at 5am? The General Assembly at the CECA was event free, there weren't enough active members to hold elections. Perjero talked big when I ran into him this morning but kept his mouth shut this afternoon. Andy called me several times lobbying for Friday's vac meeting. He thinks I should have his approach and as a representative shouldn't have my own opinion. He wants a smear campaign.
11/18 Direct Link
I just want the taglines of ideas that have come to me recently, mais on va faire comment? Can't have all that I want. VAC prep was more level headed and mature than I expected but we spent the day venting, discussing even so. We're more organized to be productive tomorrow than we usually r. Ro wanting 2 rage and party, 2 forget that whatever I said holds wt but I was backed by my posse who came out with me, they've now fallen into bed. I'm on my way. Cricket overload in the pc compound. and I'm dizzy tired.
11/19 Direct Link
Drained like pulling a plug on the bath. VAC accomplished and had positive and productive themes but 10 minutes of hard driven tension over shadowed that for me. I have so many other things to be doing, to focus on but I can't do it all at once – have to let myself focus on one thing at a time. But it's hard while I'm here and have access to communication not to be taking advantage of it, hard not to have the time and focus to get those other things done, like advancing grad school applications and planning dad's vaca.
11/20 Direct Link
We had counseling training today. It was general, glossy but worthwhile. Somehow we all ended up putting the good choice, bad choice, I care for you approach to work before the end of the day. The counselor spoke of suicide and I remembered that a friend here one night told me life may be easier if she weren't here and I said, hey wait your life shifts intensely quickly. The next day I thought I'd misread her, she meant Cameroon, not the world, but she said yeah I meant life but it's vastly different today. I'm glad she's still here.
11/21 Direct Link
I'm back home, wish I had more time here. It has gotten hotter very quickly, even in the night my upper lip sweats, my face breaking out. I walked into town, picked up my dress and ate at Perjero's. Peter called, he's back from his father's funeral. He's not en forme, distracted tired. He said there were thousands of people at the burial, traditional dances, junju. His father had 7 wives and over 70 children. Peter doesn't know the names of them all. I can't believe how sleepy I am and hot, dizzy calm. Need to go to bed now.
11/22 Direct Link
Installed in the village Nsan at the inter-caisse. I left Akonolinga with Magloire, our bags stacked high on his motorcycle. We stopped for some small rain, the gear shift dropped off. We made it to Ayos. Then he abandoned me to an empty spot in the MiFed car. The road was slippery. Joseph, the MiFed driver did a great job maneuvering in the mud. He heard I write everything down, wondered if his name has already appeared here. The mosquitoes attacked like I've never seen before, everyone smacking there legs, heads, arms. Covered in repellant I didn't get eaten alive.
11/23 Direct Link
I was hung up for hours on the bucket of warm water that finally arrived for my bath that was delivered to me in front of the entrance to the chief's house where I'm staying with most of the conference participants and village already dressed and watching. It was probably a misunderstanding that I took as an insult. Aloys rallying to dance announced that those not with him are against him. Priceless. So was dancing with the villageois. The generator for the meeting has animated the village. I'm gonna wash at least my feet with drinking water. Mosquitoes are everywhere.
11/24 Direct Link
Still en brousse at Nsan at the inter-caisse meeting. Real work is happening around me but I'm just an observer and I tune out quickly to long speeches in patois. Talk this morning of me dancing. I feel like I'm in Africa when I'm out au village, watching hawks swoop down hunting chickens, mud crusted on my shoes, the awkwardness of communicating with the women who want me comfortable but haven't approached me. I asked her if I could bathe before dinner tonight. It's hard to believe that it took a day and a half to find the pit latrine.
11/25 Direct Link
He reached into his bag and pulled out a long string of small metallic beads; copper, purple, bronze, blue. He wrapped it around my wrist six times while I explained how I usually celebrate Thanksgiving. I proposed that for each row of beads around my wrist we each pronounce something we're thankful for. I'm thankful for the generosity of the human spirit, he for air that gives life. I'm thankful for scattered family close to my heart, he for the safety of his sisters… He ends by placing his hand over the beads and pronouncing a spontaneous, far reaching prayer.
11/26 Direct Link
Catching up with volunteers is hard knowing that it's the white way of life that's making me crazy. At the same time, many good conversations and interesting people. But for more that 2 years I've been living in the moment day to day and now I'm trying to function on too many levels, timeframes and cultures. I want to get back to Akonolinga, to the simple life au village. But admin and province meetings, planning the women's seminar with Shannon for 3 towns, applying to grad school, parents coming to visit, Roger in town – it pulls me in different directions.
11/27 Direct Link
I'm in Annie's little side room in Nanga. She's moving posts tomorrow. We had thanksgiving dinner today – great gravy, fresh turkey, mashed potatoes, fab stuffing, salad – a fantastic, authentic meal. It was a nice calm day, some scrabble, some chopping some dishes. Several people read the story I'm working on. I got some useful advise among the diverse reactions. Felice helped give me some direction on my personal statement. It feels like I can now crank out at least a cohesive draft. I just need some quiet time that isn't in the middle of the night in someone else's house.
11/28 Direct Link
The moon rising full, orangey yellow on the horizon as I got out of the inter-voyage van at the top of my road, I was glad to be arriving home. Now I've washed the reddish brown dust out of my eye sockets, nails, ear grooves and nose. I've made a list of all the work I need to do in the next few days before returning to Yaoundé for e-mail and errands. I hope Beinvenu doesn't bombard me tomorrow with news and projects. I almost went over to check in with him tonight but want to head right to bed.
11/29 Direct Link
I visited the office this morning, greeted everyone and worked on the budget for the women's seminar project. I visited the kids. I miss their energy, attention and games when I'm away. But I'm most happy to have time home alone, to work through revisions, listen to my music, nap in my own bed, catch up with BBC radio. Now that I have quiet time on my own, I want more. I'd been away for a week with constant company, 3 nights au village chez the chief without a latrine, a night at omnisport and two at Annie's on mats.
11/30 Direct Link
I need to let myself fall into bed. I have much to do tomorrow. A stressful day of applications and e-mail preparations, realizing I can never get it perfect, so at dusk I walked into town to have a drink at Peter's store. The delegate of transport was there completely trashed, a Bush supporter who thinks that if a bomb was dropped that could destroy the entire Arab world it won't be so bad. Says in history Bush will fall just after Kennedy. His drunken animated debate with Peter is worthy of a play. You can't compare fisherman to hunters.